The 10 Best Swing Sets
Why Every Child Can Benefit From A Swing Set
This shouldn't be much of a surprise to anybody considering that playing a video game doesn't burn a fraction of the calories that playing outdoors does.
Unfortunately, excessive screen time is extremely unhealthy for children.
It's no secret that healthy kids are happy kids. It's also no secret that in our smartphone- and tablet-obsessed society kids tend to spend an inordinate amount of time indoors staring at screens. Unfortunately, excessive screen time is extremely unhealthy for children. Studies have even shown that it inhibits brain development by causing grey matter atrophy, reducing cortical thickness, impairing cognitive function, and more.
Even if you don't believe this, there is no arguing that excessive screen time can lead to obesity. This shouldn't be much of a surprise to anybody considering that playing a video game doesn't burn a fraction of the calories that playing outdoors does. With the rate of childhood obesity tripling since the 1970s, it is vital that we do everything we can do to motivate our kids to engage in more physical activity. Having a swing set in the backyard is definitely a great way to start. It will make the CDC's recommended one hour a day of physical activity fly by. Starting children off at a young age with the habit of moving their body and exercising regularly results in them adopting healthier lifestyle choices as they age, as well.
It is also worth noting that getting kids outside and playing in natural environments is beneficial in other ways. Research shows that outdoor physical activity leads to better mental wellbeing. It can lower stress levels and instances of depression, giving people a happier outlook on life. It also helps to boost the immune system, making it less likely for children to get sick when exposed to germs since their body can better fight infection. Spending time outdoors is also believed to boost creativity and mental focus.
A Good Fit For You And Your Kids
A person's individual sense of aesthetics is bound to recoil at the sight of any play set that crosses the line from point of pride to monstrosity. Where that line is drawn may differ depending on one's individual preferences and how much outdoor space they have on their property. For example, if you have acres of land on which to build, then your line might be drawn closer to something the size of an outdoor fortress like Camelot than to a simple tire swing.
While on the subject of screws and bolts, we should mention that wooden swing sets are often more labor intensive to assemble.
In addition to your available space, you should also take into account how many children you expect to play on it. If you have just one child, you may not need such a large swing set, unless of course your child has lots of friends who come over to play often, in which case you should buy something that will accommodate multiple kids. The same is true for multi-children households. If you have two or three children, you should buy a sturdy swing set that allows them all to play at the same time so one never feels left out of the fun.
One must also consider a play set's overall durability, which is often a product of the material from which it's built. You can find swing sets made from wood, metal, or plastic, each of which offers its own pros and cons. Most find that wood has a nicer aesthetic, but it tends to have the highest cost and won't be suitable for somebody on a tight budget. Wooden swing sets are also very durable, with the caveat that they must be maintained properly to get the longest lifespan from them. This may include re-painting or staining every few years, and periodically tightening screws and bolts. While on the subject of screws and bolts, we should mention that wooden swing sets are often more labor intensive to assemble.
Metal swing sets are generally lower in cost, yet still very sturdy. The downside to metal is that it has a tendency to rust after a couple of years. Most don't find them as aesthetically pleasing either. As with wooden swing sets, you may have to periodically tighten screws and bolts on metal varieties. Plastic sets fall somewhere between wood and metal when it comes to aesthetics and durability. They require practically no maintenance, other than perhaps hosing them down for a quick wash, and they can easily last through years and years of use, too, although they are subject to UV degradation and may eventually become brittle from sun exposure. Their colors tend to fade over time, as well. Plastic models will be some of the easiest to assemble, often simply snapping together, and are one of the safest choices, as there is no chance of causing splinters or fingers getting pinched between metal joints.
Centuries Of Swing
Swings are in no way a new invention. Archeologists have found vases from 5th century B.C.E Ancient Greece that feature illustrations of women and children playing on swing sets. At that time they were most likely made with wooden planks and hemp rope. We also find evidence of see-saws from the same period. There is even mention of swings in Greek literature, especially as pertaining to Phaedra, who is sometimes referred to as the Swinging Woman in Greek mythology. Apparently the Ancient Greeks enjoyed having fun just as much as debating philosophy.
When a caravan would stop to set up camp or hunt, the children were allowed to play, but they were discouraged from roaming too far.
The swing's long history would make sense, as there is something pleasing and fulfilling at an almost primal level to the human psyche when it comes to flying forward and upward right up until the very point where you feel you might lose control.
Swings were later used in more portable ways, particularly during the pioneer days of Manifest Destiny. When a caravan would stop to set up camp or hunt, the children were allowed to play, but they were discouraged from roaming too far. To encourage play, parents would take a solid piece of wood along with some rope, find a suitable tree, and set up an impromptu swing set. When they left, they would take it down and bring it with them for the next layover.
Over time, the materials and design of swing sets may have changed, but their principal purpose remains the same: ensuring that our children have a fun and safe place to play.